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SU Basketball: Doubling Down With Duke


Rich Barnes

The ACC released its men's basketball schedule for the coming two seasons, giving us two more games just one more time for SU and Duke.

A hundred years ago the release of Syracuse's conference schedule was exciting only because it meant the season was that much closer to becoming reality. There just wasn't any juice about it, what with a standard schedule of home and road games. We knew the opponents, we just didn't know the dates.

Obviously, it hasn't been a century, but it does feel like a lifetime ago when you could count on Georgetown coming to the Dome with Syracuse returning the favor to the Hoyas in D.C. at some point in the same season -- the same routine with St. John's and Villanova, etc. Expansion, though, changed all that we knew and could count on. Then realignment went and changed all the changes and now we have a Big Ten with, I don't know, 20 teams and northeastern schools like Syracuse in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

What we know becomes what used to know quick around these parts.

Well, I guess it's not all different. Syracuse does know it will play Pittsburgh, those good ole Panthers, two times every season. That's due to the ACC's rules to try and make everyone feel comfortable with the new surroundings of college athletics. The Dukes of the world still get two shots at the North Carolinas every season, everyone placated as best as possible.

Which is bogus. There should be an embracing of what is new. And nothing says "New ACC" like giving us Syracuse and Duke two times, home and road, every damn season from now until it somehow doesn't mean anything. Because, right now, Orange and Blue Devils means Boeheim and Krzyzewski, top-tier teams and some damn fine television. So much so I consider any game between the two a Bunker Game.

So I'm happy the ACC is giving us one more year, for now, of Syracuse playing Duke two times. But in all reality, it's the least the conference could give us.

I know there will never be another Georgetown, and not even another Connecticut, for SU, but the Blue Devils should be a two-times affair even more so. Duke isn't that rival like the former Big East teams, but guess what? The Big East isn't coming back! And, hell, Boeheim and Krzyzewski are...gasp...friends. Plus, while the Dome may close up in a few years, what are the chances Coach K says some witty snide remark about it after the last game in the big bubble? I'd say zero.

Similarly, Syracuse will never become anything close to North Carolina for Duke and its fans. Rightfully so, mind you, because the Tar Heels and Blue Devils have more history together than Syracuse and anyone.

But who cares? The reason Syracuse and Duke is must see isn't because of "inside stories" or "you-had-to-be-there" games from the 70s and early 80s. No, Duke and Syracuse is just great television sprouting organically from the genetically-modified world of college sports. Forty-five minutes last season that left you wanting more and more and more. On the court the two games may have been the best of the season, off the court we saw Boeheim show emotions that we've never really seen in his 38 years stomping sidelines (and don't forget Coach K's reaction after the win in Durham). You don't always need a protagonist and antagonist for a good story.

The problem here, of course, is the ACC isn't going to give us enough chapters in the future. In 2016 the two teams will play just once, adhering to those bogus "rules" designed to incorporate everyone into everyone else's schedule. Blah blah blah. It's really a waste of a perfectly awesome series by not giving us those two playing each other twice every single damn season.

"We have these rules in place and we don't want to be too controlling and we don't..."

So make Syracuse and Duke another one of those round-robin games in a conference too bloated to make common sense. Fine. It's not like there aren't a ton of other can't-miss series in the ACC, right? Wait, there aren't a ton of those actually. Seriously, are there even three can't-miss series?

Instead of giving us what we want, let's have Boeheim and Krzyzewski finish out their Hall of Fame careers with as few games against each other as possible. Besides, there are too many teams -- Louisville, Notre Dame, Pitt and the older ACC members -- to try and schedule for everyone to be happy here.

Which I guess is where that excitement comes in the conference schedule being released. Every other spring or summer we can now wonder, Did the ACC get it right, are Syracuse and Duke doing a home-and-home again? It's evidently something we'll question for decades to come. Until, I suppose, everything new becomes everything we knew, again.

SU Football: LS-BOOOOO?


Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

So one of the big announcements is a home-and-home with Louisiana State University? Well, okay then.

I wasn't thinking of LSU when I got this email on Tuesday:


(Yes, I was getting a text from a friend at the same time this screen shot was taken. And yes, my friend Pete likes to call people "dudely" and "broham.")

A "major announcement" to unveiled at Destiny USA! What could it be? Uniform changes seemed most obvious, but when Niko Tamurian tweeted there would be another announcement...I was a little thrown off. I mean, uniform changes have been talked about for so long around here that it's taken this long for SU to officially introduce them was surprising. But another "major" announcement on top of new jerseys? Hmm...A new arena? A new SU Athletics store to be housed at Destiny?

And then Sean Farrell goes and tweets LSU and Syracuse, home-and-home, and my instant reaction is, Yeah, count me out on that one. "Major announcement" or just regular announcement, or no announcement, I'm not in on it.

All I can think about is watching the Orange get beaten down in the Bayou in a couple of seasons from now -- a loss that at its best would be deflating to a season and at its worst would be stunting to a program. Unless LSU takes a serious nosedive or Syracuse makes a gigantic leap, I can't envision that game ending well for Shafer's crew.

But a funny thing happened on the way to writing this scathing column. In my constant effort to see the other side of every argument, which is a coping mechanism for insecurity, I literally talked myself right into being excited for the Tigers. Well, at least for the 2015 game. A game that's actually going to be played in the Big Sauna right in Central New York. A game that could attract 48,000-plus fans.

Listen, I don't think Syracuse will win that game next year, but there are some reasons to at least think it could be more competitive than I originally believed.

(Who likes bullet points? Good!)

  • Experience - 2015 will theoretically be Terrel Hunt's senior season. If you're going to battle the Big Boys you'll most certainly want an experienced quarterback leading the charge.
  • More Experience - Glance at the 2014 roster and you'll notice a lot of sophomores and juniors that will be juniors and seniors come '15. That includes key players like Ashton Broyld and Durell Eskridge and a bunch of other players that are expected to make an impact on both sides of the ball.
  • Scott Shafer - This could be classified as "Experience" as well, but I decided to give Shafer his own category. Think about his 2013 debut season for a moment. There is little question Shafer was learning by fire, figuring things out as they went along. And by the time December rolled around, I got the feeling Shafer had come into his own. By September of 2015 Shafer will have two full seasons of figuring things out under his belt.
  • Carrier Dome - I was too young to watch the win over Nebraska, but I certainly remember Syracuse's win over Florida in 1991. The dome was never the most intimidating (despite some revisionist historians pleas to the contrary) but there was certainly a time where the Loud House meant more than just hoops. Ignore the Greg Robinson era and you can see SU has had success against upper-echelon teams under the bubble.

I'll stand by original tweet, though, and, if given a choice, I would much prefer Syracuse to A) play nonconference games against more regional-based opponents like Penn State, Maryland or even West Virginia, and B) stay away from the real Big Boys like LSU and USC. More often than not a closer-than-expected loss like SU experienced against SC a couple of seasons ago is probably the most to be gained. Hosting the Terrapins isn't "sexy," but it's something of a regional rivalry and who needs more bling than Florida State or Clemson or even, every so often, Miami? The ACC does offer a lot in terms of competitive opponents, if you think

Yet, we all know Daryl Gross is going to forever schedule marquee contests for the Orange, even if they would be better served to be apart of the preliminary card. SU is kind of a Koko B. Ware to Gross' vision of it being Hulk Hogan. And because of that, and because the nature of college football is to get on national television and collect a big gate, Syracuse will continue to put itself out there, even when "there" is the woodshed.

Which is ultimately one of the reasons I started to reconsider my initial #HotSportsTake on this "major" announcement. We can't do anything about Gross' scheduling, so we might as while embrace it and look for the silver linings. And it just so happens that come September of 2015 a silver lining could mean a packed Carrier Dome, a top-ten LSU and a the best chance at Syracuse "shocking the world" in decades.

Of course, the dark cloud to that silver lining should be one ugly blowout loss in a few years from now, but there's no need to think about the Orange playing at LSU right now.


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We're back, everyone!

After a little more than two years away, Matt Mc's Sports Fix is rebooting and is ready to bring you coverage of North Country sports. In fact, we are here to be your source for Frontier League sports, Watertown Red and Black and Rams coverage, and, of course, Syracuse Orange discussion.

Also, each morning Fox Sports 1410 will air North Country ScoreCenters: I'll have updates on what happened on the courts and fields locally and a preview for what's on tap tonight.

And then there's the Sports Fix - airing Friday mornings from 7 to 9. We will put a two-hour spotlight on the players, coaches and media that make up North Country sports. Plus, as always, I'll mix in a few opinions and we may even break news every now and again, too. But above all, the Sports Fix is here for you, so let us know your thoughts via email: and Twitter: @matthewmcclusky!

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